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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Let the Lamb Races Begin!

Finally, some lambs on the ground.  They came a bit later this year as we altered our breeding practices.  The shepherd failed to plan ahead and did not "synchronize" the ewes as we usually do.  As we tried to breed for early lambs it meant 3 of our 7 did not take, that is, no lambs from them.  Another ewe lost her lamb prematurely.  On the bright side we do have are 5 healthy, bouncing lambs, 2 sets of twins and one single. 

When the lambs are first born the moms hold there babes on a very short leash and work to keep them away from the other lambs.  Here is a picture of Siobhan with her lambs tight at her side as she ventures out of the barn to munch some green grass. 

As the lambs age, usually by about a week they are allowed to roam further from her side.  This is when they show some interest in the other lambs, as well as things like dirt, the barn downspout and the chickens.  By a couple weeks of age the lambs begin to sport around together in mass.  They discover their play structure, the top part of an old water tank.  Always fun to see who masters it first.  This year it is "Whiskey", Aurora's single lamb.  She is seen here doing some type of acrobatic half twist off the tank.

The favorite activity of all the lambs usually happens in the evenings.  That is when they wind up to perform the lamb races.  This involves running back and forth from the barn to the pasture at full speed.  They run and run and run until they have to stop, completely winded,  mouths open wide the catch their breaths.  Lots of fun to watch.

And when they are not running, well they are just looking darn cute!
Duke stretching after a nap

Dutchess interested in my camera
Whiskey peers over her mom

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Spring Really?

While the rest of the country gets buried in snow, we out here in the west seem to be having unseasonably warm, dry weather.  Good for flowers, buds and shearing, probably won't be so good later in the summer when we run out of water.  We are doing our best to enjoy the sun for the moment, but as I am a true Oregonian, I get a little nervous when it's not raining. 

As I mentioned shearing I might as well let you know that it has come and gone.  Tom and I got our 16 sheep all sheared and it only took us 4 separate sessions.  As we are NOT professionals we can only do a few at a time before the backs start screaming.  We did feel pretty good about how it went this year.  Only one mishap.  That happened as I was getting to the last rump end of miss Rachel.  She decided to quickly plant all four hooves squarely on the ground and run!  I did a dive trying to hold her around the neck at the same time trying to keep the shears from smashing into the pavement.  Saved the shears but missed the sheep.  She went trotting down the drive with one big puff of fleece dragging in the dirt behind her.  Oh well, not perfect.  Maybe next year.

This is me shearing.  Tom is taking the picture but as this is a two person operation he quickly runs back into position once the picture is snapped.

This is Sushi's eyeball.  People often remark that sheep's eyes are so strange.  What do you think?

a close up of  Sushi's lock                  

Feather just has to tell me how much she loves me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tis the season...

Well it is breeding time for the sheep.  Actually we just took the breeding groups apart, boys back with boys (more like boy back with boy) and all the girls back together.  We are hoping our little guy, Bourbon did his job.  He is just a lamb and didn't seem to take his job as seriously as Oatis.  But we've used ram lambs (boys under a year) before and they were just as productive.  In total we bred 7 ewes so will be expecting lots o' lambs in late March, early April.  Yes it is the season.

Bloom and Rachel

Little Bourbon, playing cute for the girls.

Bloom and Rachel working out their differences.

Handsome Oatis.

Oatis' ladies.  He's a bit controlling and won't let them come up to me.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dog Days of Summer

Busy, busy times on this farm.  A long while back I did a post on all the good things that come from sheep.  One of those things was the great fertilizer they provide.  From that great compost comes a great garden (would be better if I could just keep out the moles!).  We are harvesting (when I say "we" I think I mean "I") and storing away all sorts of goodies this time of year.  Busy little squirrels.  The weather is hot and very dry.  I am longing for cooler times, brisk nights and some moisture. And, of course, more time at the spinning wheel.

 Here are the Tarahumara Sunflowers I planted. They are saluting the morning sun.  I am growing them for the bees and as they ripen, the sheep will get a nice treat.

Here are a few bees enjoying the sunflower's pollen.
 Big leaf greens in the garden; collard and kale.  I am having fun with pickling them.  A tangy salty treat that is ooooh so good for you.

For a couple days we had some smoke pour in from the fires in northern California.  It made for some interesting evening light. Those are the pictures that follow.
Our barn and very brown pasture.

And just so you don't forget the is Athena.  She is growing up nicely, don't you think?  She has a very soft fleece.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Baack from Black Sheep

We are back from another wonderful Black Sheep Gathering.  As we get to know more and more people in the fiber world the time spent there seems to go by faster and faster (I'm hoping this phenomenon is not a product of age!).  Can't believe it is over but I sure am exausted.

The sheep are happy to be back as well (they were getting pretty cranky that last day).  Thought I'd post a few up to date pictures of our young ones.  Amazing how they grow up. 
This is Bloom, sister to Simbaa (see sale page), auntie to Harissa

Harissa, the loud little girl born with about an inch and a half of fleece!  She is the daughter of Simbaa (see sale page)
Griffin, one of our ram lambs

Oatis, our yearling ram.  I LOVE his fleece.

Last but certainly not least, Athena.  Wow she is maturing!  Still cute as a button.
OH AND if anyone "needs" spinning fiber, I still have big bags of Shetland top in an array of Shetland colors!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tradegy And Joy...

Freyja hovering over her baby
....Those are the feelings you experience with the birth of a lamb and the loss of the ewe.   Little Athena was born on day 140 following her conception, a bit on the early side for a first time lambing ewe.  She had a sister but unfortunately she never took her first breath, too early for her underdeveloped lungs I guess.  We were not expecting lambs this early.  I discovered the little one before bed, all dried off and fed.  Freyja did a wonderful job.  I put them in their own pen and all seemed good.  The next day they both seemed perky and healthy.  The only concern I had was that Freyja had not fully expelled the placenta, it remained hanging off her hind end.  I consulted the vet, not to worry until it had been another couple days.  The following day, two days after Athena's birth, Freyja was getting some odd symptoms.  Several times that day I consulted the vet and treated her with what seemed appropriate.  She did not improve.   By that evening she was dead, leaving this little infant in our hands.
     What amazes me about Freyja was that she was so very stoic when I imagine she must have been in tremendous pain.  My suspicion was she had a twisted intestine.  She stayed alert and caring for her baby up until the very end, with no sign of weakness.  It was hard to tell anything was wrong. Our last moment with her before she died (Tom and I both witnessed her last breath) was her lying peacefully with her little one curled right beside her.  It was like she was waiting for us to come to the barn to take her little one so she could go; that her baby would be cared for.  How could a mother be more loving of her baby than that? 

Freyja 3/23/2012-3/30/2014
Freyja leaves a big hole in our life but her baby is doing her best to fill it.  She is a spunky, healthy little gal;  full of life.  I promise to do my best to take good care of her as her mother would have wanted.

McTavish Farm Athena

Monday, March 3, 2014

Spring Fever

 Like it is for all of us, spring is a happy time for sheep.  Temperatures are warming, grass is growing and it's time to get out of the barn and into the pasture.  These pictures were taken this morning when I put the gals out on a paddock for a little green grass.  As you can see....They are HAPPY!
Check out the "Texas kicker" maneuver!

Tsumi and Jack go at it.